Value of Real-Time Search

July 24, 2009 · 10 comments

in Marketing

“When are people turning to real-time search?”

SEM Synergy, Bruce Clay, Inc.

SEM Synergy on WebmasterRadio.fm

Virginia Nussey asked me about the value of real-time search during an interview on SEM Synergy, a weekly radio show hosted by Bruce Clay, Inc. on WebmasterRadio.fm. Our chat prompted further discussion about ways marketers can utilize and optimize real-time search.

Real-Time Search = Indexed Conversations

Real-time search is a buzzword for searching (and listening in on) what people are talking about and sharing. Some call it social search, since social activity influences search by becoming indexed conversations, content that shows up in search results.

Real-time search reflects what everyone is sharing in near real-time on social networking sites.

These conversations are held on channels such as Twitter.com and FriendFeed.com, include bookmarks on Delicious.com, votes on Digg.com stories, and posts and comments on millions of blogs – just to name a few.

Our sharing and reviews are archived and indexed. I’ve explored that sharing your online activity becomes your lifestream, because some of your sharing shows up in search results.

Social Indexing Rate

Do we know the indexing rate of our social activity? It varies and is something worth monitoring.

  • Bing began integrating Twitter feeds with Microsoft search results at the beginning of July.
  • Google indexes optimized Twitter feeds at a rate that appears to be increasing; however, nothing about Google’s real-time search information retrieval is public, yet.

I saw one tweet which was retweeted multiple times show up in Google in a few hours, but I didn’t take a screenshot. Since then, I’ve been using Google Alerts to monitor indexation rates of select tweets.  The following alert was received exactly 24 hours after the Twitter update below was posted.

Google Alert - Twitter Post Indexed

Google Alert - Twitter Post Indexed

Twenty-four hours may not be “real-time indexation” by Google, but considering some websites take days to week weeks to get indexed, an algorithm is definitely “listening” to Twitter conversations.

The following shows the update on Twitter viewed via the Web. Notice the profile name, not the user name, plus the first few words of the tweet are the “Title Tag” of this “mini” Web page.

Twitter Post - Title Optimized

Indexed Twitter Post - Title Optimized

Do you think of each tweet as a mini Web page? Each status update is just that!

Caveat: Indexing does not equal ranking!

Twitter posts and other social media conversations are not going to rank high for competitive keywords in Google search. Their influence on standard search results is, however, the topic of further exploration and testing.

You can see, however, that you can “SEO” and optimize your tweets. As Edward Lewis of SEO Consultants says,

“Anything that is crawled for information retrieval can be SEO’d. There are protocols for everything.”

Real-Time Search Engines

Real-time search engines index conversations. Some index only Twitter feeds while others tap into multiple channels of social activity. To explore some of the real-time engines, visit:

20 Best Real-Time Twitter Search Engines, a post that reviews “20 best real-time or almost real-time social web and Twitter search engines.”

Who rules real-time search? A look at 11 contenders, a post on Venture Beat that covers the proliferation of real-time search engines in past months.

Caveat: All search, especially social media participation, is open to spam. This stream of chatter is not valuable if it’s not filtered.

  • Tools enable us to “pick up” conversations. Use specific keywords to filter these streams.
  • Use discernment to filter out what the spammers put down. (Hey, it’s on the Internet, it must be accurate, right?)

Value of Real-Time Search to Marketers

Real-time search is valuable, because it lets marketers “hear” what is being shared and talked about on any given topic.

Social activities provide valuable insight, reviews and commentary about  news and events, trending topics, desires and needs.

REPEAT: “insight…about…desires and needs.”

How valuable is insight into what WE WANT and what we PLAN TO BUY?$$$

Consider…

Why is Facebook now one of the most valuable marketing channels, an advertising magnet? Google AdWords now wanes in comparison to targeted social marketing!

Social media participation gives marketers insight into sentiment, behavior and buying patterns!

Selling Bikes?

Let’s say your company sells bikes. You have a Social Media Team who is active on Twitter and other channels. Consider the following steps:

1. Send them to Topsy.com to search Twitter, blog posts, classified ad sites and other “near real-time” conversations.

2. Filter the results by looking for people who have expressed they want to “buy a bike.”

Results for "buy a bike"

Results for "buy a bike" (Click to see full-size results.)

3. Dig a little deeper to see if they are genuine and if they might find value in what you have to offer.

4. Reach out. Send them a tweet, or leave a comment on their blog.

5. Share your bike deals, and leave a link or contact information in case they are interested.

6. Be genuine, and DO NOT be a drive-by link dropper. Remember, your engagement will be indexed!

Marketers can gain a great deal of “near” real-time insight and value from social sentiment. Upon perceiving a need or interest, enter into those conversations. It’s easy to send someone a tweet then tell them to check out your offering when you’ve been paying attention and saw they recently expressed such a desire.

Sentiment Research

Mining keywords to determine how people currently “think” should be called “Sentiment Research!”

Marketers are in a quest for latest trends and information. Keyword research used to be the primary way a marketer gained insight into audience thoughts, desires and demand. Remember when Google Trends was a big deal? Then in 2007 they announced Google Hot Trends to show the top 100 “hottest” search queries for each day.

Enter: Real-time Sentiment Research

Real-time search will never replace keyword research; however, it does give us insight into sentiment.

Below is a snippet of one of my keyword keyword worksheets in which Social Conversations play a role in determining which keywords are in demand, what’s being discussed, and audience sentiment about those keyword phrases:

Social Conversations = Sentiment Research

Social Conversations = Sentiment Research

Action: Add a column for Delicious.com, Technorati.com and Topsy.com to your keyword worksheets to gather sentiment research data.

Link Building Strategy Tip: Take another look at Topsy.com screenshot above. See “Top authors” on the right?  hmmm… How might this information help you with link building?

So, when ARE people turning to real-time search?

Twitter and social bookmarking sites are tools to figure out what topics are currently relevant to users and marketers.

Marketers have a vast opportunity by turning to real-time search. We need to be savvy and discerning about how much trust we place in each conversation. But, people are talking and sharing and expressing their opinions about every topic imaginable. If you have something of value to offer, then you can get value from real-time search.

  • How are you using real-time search?
  • What engines do you use?
  • Do you see any value?
  • Do you think about optimizing some of your tweets?

The buzz and latest developments give us a lot to consider. It’s an exciting time as social activities influence peer behavior, marketing strategies and search engine results!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 CJ July 25, 2009 at 1:29 am

Hi,

I liked your post :)

I wanted to expand on sentiment analysis though. Sentiment analysis isn’t really what people “think” as such but rather how they feel, their “affective state”.

This is a very good resource:

http://www.trl.ibm.com/projects/textmining/takmi/sentiment_analysis_e.htm

And this: http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=945645.945658 (2003)

It’s not a very new area of research. Seth Grimes gives a great overview:
http://www.intelligententerprise.com/blog/archives/2009/04/the_acm_looks_a.html

I also covered this, it’s part of my research:
http://www.scienceforseo.com/opinion-mining/sentiment-analysis-in-text/

Hope you find these interesting!

Reply

2 Dana Lookadoo July 25, 2009 at 10:44 pm

CJ, belated thanks! (Your multi-linked comment got caught in the spam filter.)

Thanks for sharing your research on sentiment analysis. Agree, this area is not new, and I appreciate your insight! I especially like your research into how important it is to understand the meaning of the words expressed, in context. You mention how important this area is “as negative and positive comments could easily be retrieved by users.” Yes, we must go so much deeper.

Social influence on search, aka real-time search :-), gives us a little more insight.

To clarify semantics, I referred to “Sentiment Research” as one step in evaluating desires and needs, an expanded form of keyword research that provides marketers with insight about topics that are part of recent social conversations. Count and competition data from WordTracker, Keyword Discovery, Google AdWords Keyword tool, etc. do not provide enough data upon which to make decisions to invest significant SEO and marketing efforts. You are so right, discerning such sentiment and analyzing the meaning of the words is a required next step.

Thanks again, CJ, and I’m honored you took the time to share the resources. It’s nice to meet you!

Reply

3 Dave July 25, 2009 at 7:49 am

Hiya Dana…. interesting stuff (here and the podcast)….an area I’m becoming more and more familiar with. I just left a reasonably lengthy response over on the BC blog, so I won’t get to crazy here… hee hee..

What is important is that optimizing for search is all about ROI and at this point none of the RTS apps are sending nearly enough traffic to really be concerned about. They are the realm of SMMs for research and buzz monitoring IMO. We’re not at the point of actually giving a rats ass about it (much like last years buzz term ‘social search’ which never manifested).

Anyway, the reason I dropped in is because I am interviewing one of the engineers at One Riot this week and wondered if you had any questions you wanted me to throw at them? You’ve got my email, drop me a line and we can talk about it more…

M’kay?

Reply

4 Dana Lookadoo July 25, 2009 at 9:37 am

Dave, thanks for the input, and your point about ROI is so important. It’s important we understand the various approaches and levels of reliability from SEO & SMM.

Optimized Twitter and social participation does increase discoverability. Marketers do gain insight and the ability to enter conversations as a result of listening and being tuned in, in near real-time. ROI measurement of social influence is another hot topic so many of us are trying to wrap our brains and spreadsheets around.

I believe one of the quandaries about real-time search (social search or whatever buzzword we use) is how it affects search and information retrieval, algorithms, authority, etc. You’ve touched on these issues and given us a lot of food for SEO thought. Your post Real time search engines; should SEOs care? covers some great issues for SEOs to consider.

I’m especially interested in One Riot’s opinion about PulseRank and look forward to connecting with you for your OneRiot interview! Thanks, Dave!

Reply

5 CJ July 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Hi Dana, we agree :)

Please get in touch via @Missmcj or through the form on the blog so we can expand if you;re interested. Your SMM stance is interesting and it would be fun to talk more about SA (and affective reasoning) with you!

Reply

6 Monika Lorincz July 27, 2009 at 7:16 am

Engaging post. People value real time search because it gives them the heads-up on what is happening right now or at least very recently. Real time search is essential – whether to journalists who mine the online data, surfers looking for the hottest topic or people monitoring their favorite topic on an ongoing basis.

Monika Lorincz
http://surchur.com

Reply

7 Dana Lookadoo July 27, 2009 at 8:54 am

CJ, thanks! So look forward to exploring Sentiment Analysis more. I’ve read some of your research prior, thanks to David Harry’s mention of you. Thrilled to explore more!

Monika, good point about journalists. As users, my friends and I were semi-dependent upon real-time search tools during the Tour de France as a way to find out more information after high-drama stages. We wanted to know about what the racers were saying, how they were feeling, and about inside developments. We turned to WhosTalkin.com, Topsy.com and OneRiot.com to find the inside scoop. Thanks for your comment!

Reply

8 agnes August 1, 2009 at 3:02 am

Nice information about the real time search engines.Very notable points.

Reply

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